Learning how to do 'sound designing' so i can use all that stuff in Halion 7

I use Halion only for the presets. I’ve never really got into design,. I just upgraded to Halion 7 and sound design is basically the whole reason people buy this… I was just watching Don going through FM zone… i don[t know an oscillator from an envelope. Googling brings up thousands of pages on sound design which is daunting. Is there a playlist of videos or a course on sound design that would give me enough background to use apply that knowledge to Halion 7.
For example, in this video, Don has created his own instrument, and has fiddled with it using Synth Zone… I , of course , have NO FRIGGING IDEA what he is talking about. How and where does he create new patches/instuments… Does everyone take a course in this stuff. ? i did download an iPad app which has an onscreen synth and you tweak ossilatior knows and such and hear how the synth plays it… but Halion has so much that goes way beyond that…
Some of you are scratching your heads… “why pay so much for synth if you don’t use 99% of it”… Well, i have tried a dozen synths over the years, and i find Halions presets are the best for my taste… It would just be nice to kick it up a notch and design sounds like don does in his video…

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The “One Man and His Songs” channel on YouTube has a pretty extensive Halion 6 tutorial series:

If you’re looking for more generalized sound design tutorials to help in Halion and other synths, you’ll probably have to look at multiple sources since Halion has several different synth engines. (VA/subtractive, FM, granular, wavetable, etc.)


A great start.

There are books out there on the topic.

Books range in scope from giving a general overview of synthesized music from day one to present. Such a book will get you primed for a lot of the theory, jargon, and concepts behind the instruments.

From there you can find books targeted to specific types of synthesis, or even specific pieces of hardware or software for the job.

Also, it’s not a bad idea to grab the pdf version of the Docs for HALion and simply start reading from page one, all the way to the end…as if it were a ‘long read’ novel. While it might not make much sense on the first go around, it will put a lot of cognitive building blocks in your head that’ll come in handy as explore the software.

Another great tactic is to simply look deep into existing sounds that came with it. Start with stuff in the H4 libraries that don’t have macro screens or anything, but are fully unlocked, allowing you to see how layers and zones are built.

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ok i think i am developing a lesson plan . i wonder if starting with the books is the right way to begin. i am afraid that if i read without hearing the resulting sound changes may be difficult to understand.
maybe i start with the tutorial in a previous post so i can hear the results of knob tweaking…
. and then tackle the manual page by page) which is almost as long as those 3 pound stephen king volumes) …

and as you said at the end ,deconstruct the patches * (thanks a million for the recommendations for what to look at)… and then if i need to go deeper, use your book resources……
does that sound like a good sequence ( pun not intended) for my lesson plan ?

  • patches…am i dating myself ? lol do they still call these patches ? or are they now ‘instruments and programs,
    just turned 70 this year . I dont see ‘Granular Synth Sound Design for Seniors ‘ in your book list lol lol

Sounds good to me.

Programs/Patches…all depends on the software I suppose.

HALion calls it like so:

Multi-Program - An entire state for everything…ALL of it. All your instrument slots, effects, mixer settings, aux buses…you name it, it gets saved.

Program - What can be loaded into a single instrument slot.

Layer - These can be elements of your ‘program’. You can export/import
individual nodes (like folders), or groups of them as a ‘layer’ from your Program Tree.

Layers can be used to start a new instrument slot, or you can import them into the Program Tree at whatever point in the hierarchy you like.

Programs intended to work in the free Sonic player typically have 4 top layers, and you can nest all you like from there down. Even if the factory content programs aren’t using all 4 Layers at the top level, you’ll notice that many of the factory presets begin with 4…while the unused ones do nothing but contain a Flex Phraser and establish some AUX sends, and point to the master bus.
(See program tree in the right pane)

For the most part you can ignore this ‘Sonic Compatibility’ talk early on. When you are ready to settle a given program to work in Sonic…export as ‘layers’, then bring it into Sonic in the layer structure you want there and save it as a true Sonic program.

If Sonic compatibility isn’t a concern, you can have more or fewer layers than 4 at the primary parent level.

So…if you intend to roll a library that’ll work in the free Sonic player (Or Sonic Collections), then stick with 4 or fewer layers at the primary parent level in your program tree. Otherwise, the sky is the limit…you can have dozens of them :slight_smile:

So I guess that’s kind of lesson one. Read up in the HALion docs about:
Multi Program
Program Tree


That’s an amazing tutorial !!!

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Thinkspace education do a couple of sound design courses which are discounted if you get both. Doesn’t have halion on it but show you different synths and manipulation of audio to create different sounds. The second course shows you how to make a track by creating your own sounds.
I found the it really useful to get my head round the theory of how you create sounds. Filters, wavetables, envelopes etc. Dom sigalis does great you tube tutorials showing how to use halion and groove agent, google “creating 3 instruments from one sample halion”
Hope it helps
Although the more i tinker with stuff the worse it sounds…

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And then @stephen_rudolph … you can venture into making your own instrument, with your own (recorded/sampled) sounds.!!

Here’s the tutorial vid series by Andy Schrav (where has Andy been of late.?) from around 5 years ago using HALion 6. Don’t think anything’s changed at all in this respect in H7 since then…

Now that’s what I call real sound designing - from scratch.! :grinning:
How to Build & Design Your Own VST Instrument | How to Create a New Instrument in HALion - YouTube

Anyway, good luck; plenty to keep you out of mischief for a bit… :upside_down_face: :star_struck:


Amazing ! Thanks

Super ! After I tinker with the videos here , then I decide to dive in to a real course.
During those dry periods when my music composition skills are sleeping. Haha

Start here:

I second the recommendation above for the Thinkspace course.


On the FM Lab…

Back in the day hardware came with paper manuals that sometimes have very interesting and easy to read introductions that gave an ‘overview’ of the terminology, theory, and process for using the instrument.

You might find pdf owner manuals of the old Yamaha synths this model of synthesis was born on! I haven’t checked them out yet, but I do remember that most of the hardware tone generators and keyboards I purchased in the 80s and early 90s came with really nice manuals written by and for generations brought up under behaviorist/cognitive learning/teaching styles (the internet wasn’t as robust as it is today, memory and storage was EXPENSIVE, so collectivst style learning literature was a bit more ‘rare’.

Back in those days most learning theorists were into behaviorist or cognitive style writing. rather than ‘collectivism’ [learn what you need on demand, skip stuff you already know, click links and hunt…get what you need when you need it. One complaint about constructivist learning theory on its own is that sometimes you aren’t sure what to look for, what to ask, whom to ask, or how…thus ‘cognitive primers’ on vocabulary, theory, and process will always be helpful sections to include in technical manuals! Sadly, a lot of modern user manuals ‘skip’ the overview, or even ‘strip it out’ because someone said it’s ‘hokey and outdated’ (kidding, kind of, but I did see someone complain over in the Dorico forum with comments like, “We are pros! We know what a quater note is! Why does your documentation go into detail explaining what quarter notes are and how Dorico treats it?” hopefully Lily wont listen to them and take too much of that stuff out…it’s important to understand Dorico’s ‘interpretation’ of those terms and symbols!)].

These days software doesn’t come with a paper manual. Few things do. Tech Writers and Learning Theorists shoot for a collectivist style documentation. Understanding how this stuff is supposed to work can be rather helpful.

  1. Pop-ups. HALion offers optional hints or popups that can be enabled/disabled in the Options tab. What this means is hovering the mouse over something in HALion’s UI can cause a little floater that gives ‘hits’ on what that control does. If you ever build a macro, there are fields to put such ‘hints’ yourself.

Those ‘hints’ can help you know what to type in as a search keyword in the online software manual (or even on a broader world wide web search engine) to get more information.

Most manuals in the pdf format do still have a table of contents, index, and some still have a glossary (if lucky) for looking up terms, jargon, etc. Entries there tend to have hot-links where you can just click to jump.

Online manuals sometimes don’t have a book style content table and index, but will still have things broken down under headings (Steinberg Online Manuals keep it in the left column) where you can scroll and at least get headings/titles that address the various ‘menus, controls, buttons, etc’ in the software itself. When there is no traditional ‘index’ at the end of it all…we’re meant to use the search bar at the top of the page as a replacement.

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I miss my paper manuals so much. I would highlight passages. Maybe different colors. Put flags on sheets. It makes no sense , but I was able to find stuff faster when it was underlined and highlighted. The material stuck in my head longer.
I occasionally print smaller manual and grab rhem and sit down and read part over again. Seems difficult with in-screen manuals…. Halion manual is too big and I know you can import them and mark it. But it’s not the same. I can’t explain it.

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When I first got into HALion, I grabbed the PDF version of the manual and put it in my eReader (A Kindle Paper White at the time…by emailing the pdf to a special amazon address, the pdf was ‘converted’ into something that I could blow up the fonts and all for easy reading, and automatically forwarded onto my Kindle).

Once it was in my kindle, I started on page one and went through the entire thing in sequence like a long read. Not all in one sitting of course…but a ‘proverbial’ chapter or two at the time.

It helped me a good deal to have all those cognitive snippets in my head when I’d sit down at the computer again. In the least I knew, “Hey…I remember reading that it can do this…just gotta go back and refresh my memory, and ‘put it into practice’ now…”